United States District Court, D. Arizona
BRIDGET S. BADE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Geraldine A. Pauloski and Farnsworth Realty & Management
Company have filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' claims
for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. 18.) Defendants argue
that Plaintiffs' claims in this matter are barred because
they should have been asserted as compulsory counterclaims in
an earlier eviction action in state court. (Id.) The
motion is fully briefed. (Docs. 21, 22.) For the reasons
below, the Court denies the motion.
August 8, 2017, Plaintiffs Wilton Alexander, Juanetta
Wagoner, and Ruby Wagoner filed a Complaint alleging
violations of the Fair Housing Act of 1988, 42 U.S.C.
§§ 3601-3619 (Count One), the Arizona Fair Housing
Act, Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 41-1491.19 (Count Two), breach
of the implied warranty of habitability (Count Three),
negligence (Count Four), and intentional infliction of
emotional distress (Count Five). (Doc. 1.) The Complaint
alleges that in 2015 Plaintiffs entered into a written lease
with Defendant Farnsworth Realty & Management Company
(“Farnsworth”) for property in Mesa, Arizona.
(Id. at ¶¶ 1, 10.) After Plaintiffs took
occupancy of the property, they had issues with the stove, a
leak in the bathroom that was not repaired properly, a roach
infestation, and a malfunctioning dishwasher. (Id.
at ¶¶ 11-21.) Plaintiffs remained in the property
from November 1, 2015, until there were evicted on May 30,
2017, and vacated the property on June 5, 2017. (Id.
at ¶ 23.)
March 23, 2017, Farnsworth served a “10 Day Legal
Notice” on Plaintiffs. (Id. at ¶ 33.) The
notice stated that Farnsworth received notice that the
property was in poor condition, was being maintained in an
unsanitary and hazardous manner due to heavy clutter, and had
a roach infestation. (Id. at ¶ 34.) On April
21, 2017, Farnsworth sent a second “10 Day Legal
Notice” stating Plaintiffs had “made progress on
the property, ” but that Farnsworth was still concerned
about the roach infestation. (Id. at ¶ 35.) On
April 27, 2017, Plaintiffs had the property treated for the
roach infestation. (Id. at ¶ 37.)
allege that Ruby Wagoner is 95 years old. (Id. at
¶ 27.) They also allege that both Ruby and Juanetta
Wagoner are individuals with disabilities within the meaning
of 42 U.S.C. § 3601 and Ariz. Rev. Stat. §
41-1491(5). (Id. at ¶¶ 27-31.) They allege
that Plaintiff Alexander is 87 years old, has high blood
pressure, has had open heart surgery, and is the caregiver
for Ruby and Juanetta Wagoner. (Id. at ¶ 32.)
On April 20, 2017, Monica Abrante, M.D., signed a request for
reasonable accommodation for Ruby and Juanetta Wagoner.
(Id. at ¶ 42.) The request explained that
Plaintiffs Ruby and Juanetta Wagoner could only perform
limited housekeeping due to their disabilities. (Id.
at ¶ 41.) These Plaintiffs “requested exceptions
for items related to health care” and “requested
some patience as Plaintiffs eradicated or attempted to
eradicate the roach infestation.” (Id.) On May
9, 2017, Farnsworth received the request for reasonable
accommodations. (Id. at ¶ 40.)
meantime, on May 1, 2017, Farnsworth sent a certified letter
to Plaintiffs indicating that the lease had been terminated
and that Plaintiffs must vacate the property within ten days.
(Id. at ¶ 38.) Defendants terminated the lease
due to the roach infestation and because living conditions
related to the infestation “had not been brought into
compliance.” (Id. at ¶ 39.) On May 23,
2017, Farnsworth filed an eviction action against Plaintiffs
in the San Tan Justice Court (CC2017-094613EA). (Id.
at ¶ 44.) At the May 30, 2017 eviction hearing,
Farnsworth acknowledged receipt of the request for reasonable
accommodation. (Id. at ¶ 45.) Plaintiffs urged
Farnsworth to consider reasonable accommodation under the
Fair Housing Act of 1988 and the Arizona Fair Housing Act.
(Id. at ¶ 50.) Farnworth refused to reconsider
the request for reasonable accommodation. (Id. at
¶ 51.) On May 30, 2017, Farnsworth obtained a judgment
of eviction. (Id. at ¶ 52.)
1, 2017, representatives from Farnsworth informed Plaintiffs
they had thirty days to leave the property before being
evicted and that Farnsworth would allow the storage of their
personal property for another twenty days. (Id. at
¶ 54.) However, following the eviction, Farnsworth
“forced Plaintiffs to immediately leave the residence
by June 5, 2017, at 5:00 p.m. giving no reasonable
accommodation to Plaintiffs despite either [their] advanced
ages [or] disability status.” (Id. at ¶
55.) Plaintiffs allege that as a result of Defendants'
conduct, they “suffered actual and monetary damages,
including damages for mental anguish, pain, suffering,
emotional distress, humiliation, embarrassment,
inconvenience, loss of the right to an equal opportunity to
enjoy their dwelling and loss of their civil rights under the
Fair Housing Act.” (Id. at ¶¶ 69,
Standard for Motion to Dismiss
Rule 12(b)(6) motion tests the legal sufficiency of a
claim.” Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 732
(9th Cir. 2001). A court will dismiss a complaint for failing
to state a claim when the face of the complaint establishes
affirmative defenses. See Parungao v. Community Health
Systems, Inc., 858 F.3d 452, 457 (7th Cir. 2017)
(stating that dismissal is appropriate when it is clear from
the face of a complaint, and matters of which the court may
take judicial notice, that the plaintiff's claims are
barred as a matter of law). Defendants assert that
Plaintiffs' complaint fails to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted because it asserts claims that are
barred under the doctrine of res judicata. (See Doc.
18.) Specifically, Defendants argue that Plaintiffs'
claims should have been asserted as compulsory counterclaims,
under Rule 13(a) of the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure, in
an earlier state court eviction action. (Id. at
Court applies state law to determine whether Plaintiffs'
claims are compulsory counterclaims that should have been
pleaded in the earlier state court eviction action. See
Pochiro v. Prudential Ins. Co. of Amer., 827 F.2d 1246,
1249 (9th Cir. 1987). “A plaintiff's claims are barred
by res judicata if they should have been pled as compulsory
counterclaims in a previous action, if the previous action
was adjudicated on the merits, and if the present claims
concern the same parties or their privies.” Am.
Bank of the North v. Sullivan, 2017 WL 3268795, at *2
(D. Ariz. Aug. 1, 2017) (citing Rousselle v. Jewett,
421 P.2d 529, 531 (Ariz. 1966), and Mirchandani v. BMO
Harris Bank, N.A., 326 P.3d 335, 337 (Ariz. 2014)). The
burden of proving these elements rests with the party
asserting that res judicata applies to bar a claim. State
Compensation Fund v. Yellow Cab Co. of Phoenix, 3 P.3d
1040, 1044 (Ariz. 1999).
their motion to dismiss, Defendants cite only Rule 13(a) to
support their conclusory assertion that all of
Plaintiffs' “claims arise out of the same
transaction or occurrence that was the subject matter of
Defendants' eviction lawsuit filed in San Tan Justice
Court in Maricopa County.” (Doc. 18 at 2-3.) Therefore,
Defendants assert that Plaintiffs' claims are barred as
compulsory counterclaims “that should have been brought
at the earlier eviction proceedings in state court.”
(Id.) Defendants' motion does not address the
elements to establish that res judicata applies.
response, Plaintiffs argue that Rule 13(a) does not apply to
forcible entry detainer (“FED”)
actions. (Doc. 21 at 7-9.) Plaintiffs alternatively
argue that even if Rule 13(a) applied in an eviction action,
their claims in Counts One and Two would not be barred by res
judicata because they are not compulsory counterclaims. (Doc.
21 at 10.) In their reply, Defendants argue that Rule 13(a)
applies to eviction actions and that Plaintiffs' claims
are compulsory counterclaims because they arise out of the
same transaction or occurrence as the eviction action and
involve the same parties. (Doc. 22 at 2-4.) As discussed
below, the Court concludes that, subject to exceptions that
do not appear to apply to Plaintiffs' claims, Rule 13(a)
does not apply in eviction actions. Therefore, Defendants
have not established that Plaintiffs were required to assert
these claims as ...